Haphazard sampling, also known as convenience sampling or accidental sampling, is a type of non-probability sampling method where subjects are selected due to their convenient accessibility and proximity to the researcher. The selection of samples is not based on a formal, structured process, but is left largely to the discretion of the researcher.
For example, a researcher standing in a shopping mall and surveying the first 100 people who walk by is using a haphazard sampling method.
While haphazard sampling is easy to conduct due to its low cost and convenient nature, it has significant limitations. The primary concern is that because it doesn’t involve random selection, it can easily lead to sampling bias, where certain groups may be over- or under-represented in the sample. As a result, the findings may not be generalizable to the overall population. Therefore, while it might be useful for preliminary, exploratory research, it is typically not suitable for research that aims to make accurate inferences about a broader population.
Example of Haphazard Sampling
Let’s consider an example of a business researcher who wants to understand customer attitudes towards a new product launched in the market.
For quick feedback, the researcher might stand outside the store that sells the new product and ask every fifth customer who leaves the store about their opinion on the product. This is an example of haphazard sampling because the researcher is selecting individuals based on their convenient accessibility (being present at the store), rather than using a systematic, random sampling method.
This approach might provide some initial insights, but it comes with limitations. For instance, customers shopping at this particular store may not be representative of the product’s entire customer base. Also, the choice to survey every fifth customer is arbitrary and may not ensure a diverse or representative sample.
Therefore, while haphazard sampling in this case can offer some quick, preliminary feedback, it would not provide a comprehensive understanding of all customers’ attitudes toward the product. The researcher would need to conduct a more systematic, random sampling process to get reliable, generalizable results.